Published August 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

Audubon refuge, fish hatchery get stimulus funds for renovations

Federal dollars designated to stimulate the economy are being used for construction projects at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge and the nearby Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery.

By: Kim Fundingsland, Minot Daily News

COLEHARBOR, N.D. — Federal dollars designated to stimulate the economy are being used for construction projects at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge and the nearby Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery.

Combined, the cost of the two projects is more than $7 million.

The bigger of the two projects is under way at the Audubon refuge, construction of a $6.1 million, 11,000-square-foot headquarters building and visitors center.

The new facility will be a few hundred feet west of the existing refuge headquarters.

Local variations

While the building is being constructed according to standardized Fish and Wildlife Service plans, variations to fit the locality will be included.

“There is a basic footprint we need to keep, but we are allowed input on the interior design to make sure it is exhibit-ready. Certain exhibits require certain construction features,” said Jackie Jacobson, Audubon’s outdoor recreation planner.

“We’ll have all new exhibits on grassland and wetland habitat, with emphasis on migratory birds.”

The building also will house 15 permanent staff members and up to 20 seasonal staff.

New furnishings are included with the project. The existing headquarters building will be razed once the new building is completed.

“We actually have some situations with our building right now. It contains asbestos, and the roof leaks, actually pours through cracks and onto the carpeting,” Jacobson said.

“There’s a flat ceiling on this building, and it has had three additions since the late 1950s.”

Geothermal, wind

The new building will be served by a geothermal well system and a vertical access wind turbine that will generate electricity.

The vertical turbine is mounted atop a tower, eliminating the large blades seen on standard wind turbines that are known to be struck by birds in certain areas.

Jacobson said the new building will allow for an increase in public programs hosted by the refuge so that more people will be able to utilize the visitors center.

The schedule calls for the building to be completed in fall 2010 and possibly occupied by October 2010.

Officials say the refuge draws 29,000 visitors each year and has more than 300 species of wildlife.

Stimulus funding

The Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery received more than $920,000 from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this month.

The dollars are being used to place artificial liners in seven outdoor ponds, bringing the total of lined ponds at the hatchery to 24.

Lined ponds have resulted in increased fish production at the hatchery.

“The liners can add as many as 2 million additional walleye to bolster our stocking efforts,” said Rob Holm, hatchery project manager.

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